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Thursday, 30 May 2013

White Rabbit

White little rabbit
Always so curious
To the world that surrounds you
Running after time
Running after hope
Big questions that astound you
Running from the hunter
Running from the danger
Too bad it already found you
Too busy always running
Searching, sniffing for some clues
Can't see what is around you
So little rabbit run
The world is after you
But you're still waiting for the sun
You gotta run rabbit run
Stop waiting for the unknown
There's no safety from anyone
A small fragile creature
So delicate the body
Still looking for that road
Too brave and brittle
Not ready to leave it behind
You're carrying a big load
Tired from running
Suffering and pain
Life's taken it's tole
Just want to enjoy the sun
Sit down and surrender
Digging up your own hole
But please run rabbit run
The world is after you
Waiting for the rising of the sun
Little rabbit run
Too much pain in the past
But another day has just begun
So Rabbit run. 

Monday, 27 May 2013

Figure Out What Strength Means

Yes, I just seriously quoted a Disney cartoon.
Strength is a strange concept. It's hard to tell what it means, because it probably has different meanings in different situations. Does it make you a strong person to always show your emotions to people, or does strength come from the capability to have control and act rationally? Are you a strong person because you can be vulnerable and cry, or is the stronger person the one who doesn't cry? And what about change? I've always thought that a person who can change the situation they're in, be it a bad relationship, or a career they don't like, is strong enough to do so. Yet, simultaneously, I've also thought about the daily strength it takes to stay in a situation that isn't always so desirable.

I could go on forever thinking about it, but I'll never know the answer because it's not so cut and dry. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between being strong and having a big ego. The idea of strength isn't about having power, whereas a person's ego may strive for that. Strength is about letting go of power. It isn't always about having control and acting rationally, but sometimes it's about being vulnerable and letting yourself be transparent. When I was watching Pina (2011), a film documenting Pina Bausch's influence as a dancer, one of her students mentioned a conversation she and Pina had, where Pina told her that her strength lied in her fragility. I thought that was a beautiful thought, and something that our society forgets, as aggression and assertiveness are more valued because we are told that they are qualities that lead to success; we have to be bold and logical and impenetrable to be respected. I doubt that that's true.

Growing up, I also always felt like showing emotions was a sign of weakness, but I realize that that's a part of being human. And if like me, a person is naturally calm in situations, then that's okay too. I guess strength really comes from recognizing who you are, and learning to not fight with it all the time. Hopefully, through this acceptance, people can also recognize that everyone is struggling and everyone has a fragile and sensitive piece in who they are. I've also learned in my experiences that the people who seem the most aggressive are, most often, the most sensitive and fragile and they use that aggression to protect themselves. Appearances are quite deceiving indeed. Everyone wants to seem strong and everyone wants to be respected, but I think we need to stop aiming for what the general definition of these words mean, and try to figure it out for ourselves. Me definitely included.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Only a Coward Would Love This Way

I have been pleasantly surprised these past few weeks at people who take the time to compliment my writing on the blogs. I always loved writing, from a very young age. I remember when my mom got me my first book to write in, and thus began my love for poetry at the age of eleven. When I began writing, I used to love sharing my work with people because it made me excited to have created something from my own imagination. It made me excited to have found this new tool of words to express my thoughts and feelings, and the idea of rhyming words, or matching sounds intrigued me.

As children, for us every experience is a new one and it's met with excitement and little expectation of what it could become. There's no insecurity about being creative because it's not a matter of proving yourself, since the worth doesn't come from exchanging a talent or a skill for money, but the worth lies in how much enjoyment comes out of it. Unfortunately as adults, we forget this feeling because responsibility takes over and along with that comes expectations, and therefore a measurement of our own capabilities, which can cause insecurities. As I got older, these insecurities took over me and by the time I had enrolled into a creative writing class in grade twelve, I was convinced that I couldn't write for shit (see picture below for an example of my creative writing.)

The beginning of my university career didn't help either, because let's face it, high school definitely doesn't teach students to write proper academic essays, and sure some people are smart enough to figure it out, but I wasn't until much later (same picture applies to essay writing as well.)

Needless to say, I didn't share any of my work for a very long time. Writing was important for me and to have someone tell me that I wasn't good enough put me in a very vulnerable position. But then I realized "what a cowardly way to love something." Loving doesn't mean hiding the thing you love so you can keep it safe from being criticized. Rather, it's about showing your love with all of its flaws, and having a strong enough heart to take criticism, however it comes, to become better and to love more vigorously. In my case, the love for writing grew when I stopped caring about being "good enough" and started to simply write. Following the same sentiment as my first entry: Nothing happens, if nothing happens, so stop thinking so much and do something; you may be pleasantly surprised one day.

Tangled Thoughts in an Empty Room

Print by Nilou Afshar
Though it's empty
The room is heavy
It's filled with nostalgia
And a memory
That can't be traced
Too much empty space
That once was full
Of movement and life
And now it's stale
Cut the silence with a knife
A silence so thick, so tangled
With aimless thoughts
Memories I forgot
Words, unsaid
Broken promises that bled
But within these walls, they remain
For the room is meant to contain
The burden that has been burnin slow
The burden that I shake off
As I turn off the lights 
And go

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Our Breaths Dance, But We Do Not

Worlds of colours
Mixing with one another
Wind breezes on through
Creating swirls that travel
Between Me and You
Our breaths, warm
As we exhale and
Together they float
And they dance
Before our eyes
How beautiful
It is to witness this ritual
Which is communicating
More than words ever will
Communicating the sensuality
Of something we can't sense
For it is our breaths
That continue to dance
As we slowly turn away.

Female versus Male sexuality: Can Males Be "Sexually Fluid" Too?

There's this myth that females are more sexually fluid than males, meaning that they are more likely to be bicurious and to experience a broad range of sexual desires. The truth is that because our social hierarchy puts heterosexuality at the top, but specifically heterosexually masculine men, women have nothing to lose because their heterosexuality is never questioned, and so this frees them to sexually experiment. On the flip side, having a homosexual experience for a man, who identifies as heterosexual, can have severe consequences because his heterosexual masculinity automatically goes into question.

The amount of times I've heard questions like "How can he be completely straight if he's made out with another guy? Oh my god, he must be gay, but he's just not out yet" makes me think that people are too narrow minded about sexuality. It's strange that if a man claims that he had sex with another man, that one-time experience can never be thought about casually, whereas if a woman were to do the same thing, no one would question: a) her femininity and b) her heterosexuality, but would either blame the alcohol or brush it off as her wanting to experiment. I'm not saying that everyone is that narrow minded or that every scenario will play out just as I've mentioned, but there is truth in the statement that it is much more difficult for heterosexual men to be accepted and not questioned for being bicurious, than it is for heterosexual women, as men indirectly and directly feel like they are jeopardizing their heterosexual identities and threatening their masculinity; there is a lot more at stake.

When it comes to sexual fluidity, men are put into more rigid categories of "either you're straight, or you're gay" and I don't think that that's a fair assessment. I believe that this type of categorization is problematic for both men and women because it continues to put heterosexual masculinity on a pedestal, since it becomes such a powerful part of a man's identity, which he is always on the verge of losing if he does not ascribe to stereotypical notions of what it means to be heterosexual and/or masculine.

Sculptures from Cancun's Underwater Museum
Alfred Kinsey, best known for his theories on sex, suggested that people have different degrees of heterosexuality versus homosexuality, known as The Kinsey Scale, and that most are likely to be somewhere in between. Although many of his studies went under question due to his methods of research, I tend to believe that there is some truth to his understanding of human sexuality. Even historically, people's understandings of these categories were quite different, suggesting that it is society which determines the boundaries of what is sexually acceptable and what is not. Take Socrates' time, for example. As displayed by many of his writings, love was not known to be between a man and a woman within a marriage, but between an older man and his much younger male disciple. Therefore, such a relationship certainly did not take away from a man's masculinity nor did it suggest that he was homosexual for he would probably also be married with children. On the contrary, it was expected, because philosophers such as Socrates believed that it was through such relationships that one learned the meaning of love.

What I mean to suggest is that our understanding of masculinity and heterosexuality is continuously changing according to society's norms, and so holding such words so close to one's identity can keep people from experiencing something that they may be interested in, but too ashamed to admit to. These are all my own thoughts on the subject, but who am I to say? I just feel like the relationship between men and women, among themselves, with each other, and to the society, would really change for the better if we all learned that sexuality can be fluid for everyone and that "masculinity" has nothing to do with a person's sexual orientation.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

People Are (I am) Masochistic

I had a few ideas that I wanted to discuss, but I decided that I don't feel like being intelligent and would rather ramble. This is my blog, after all, and if I want to be annoying about it, so I shall. We can't always say something worth while because sometimes we just need to ramble until something worth while comes up. I'm pretty sure that that is the kind of therapeutic treatment Freud established. Who needs Freud anyway? I'll "free associate" by myself!

I am Garfield. Period.
So my room is a mess. I find that my physical environment seems to be a direct reflection of the way I'm feeling. I also find that sporadically getting up to clean my room can have extreme positive effects on my mood and sense of self. It's funny the way an environment can affect someone's internal mood, and someone's internal mood can create the appearance of the environment. It makes me wonder that small tasks can make a bigger difference than people give them credit for. For example, brushing teeth, taking a shower, changing out of pajamas, having a clean room, these tasks that are meant to keep up our appearances actually have an effect on the way we hold ourselves and the way we feel about ourselves; they can affect someone's whole day. But when these are such simple tasks, why are they then so hard to do when a person's in a rut?

Sometimes when I'm feeling down, my room will be a complete mess, I'll still be in my pajamas at 5:00pm, and I'll feel dirty as hell (too much information?), but I still wont get up to change anything. It's almost like I want to make myself suffer. People are crazy. Maybe it's just me who's crazy. I wonder if anyone else likes to piss themselves off on purpose? The truth is that I have a very mild case of OCD, so it's almost like I want to drive myself crazy by hanging out in a completely messy and chaotic room. I'm so weird. At least I'm honest. What is that Freud? This all comes down to me wanting to get down with my dad?? Well fuck you! No but seriously, Freud is hilarious. I heard that he used to get high on cocaine. Not sure if that's true, but it would add another level onto his, sometimes comical, conclusions.
Even the pinata is masochistic! 

To be honest, I really have no solution to the problem. I just know that people always go through phases, and if they're insightful enough, the negative phases become easier to deal with. I've also learned that it's too easy to judge and think that the solution is simple, but everyone needs to figure shit out on their own time because that's when it will be real; that's when it will truly sink in. Everyone has something in their life that is a challenge for them and I suppose it's through these challenges that we are all connected.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Happy "it's the hardest job in the fucking world" Day

Three Generations: Mom, Grandma, Me
Thank you for teaching me so much, even when you didn't always mean to. Thank you for never being afraid to show yourself as human to me, instead of an all-knowing adult who never makes mistakes, which is the way I see most parents act with their children. Thank you for apologizing when you were out of line, or protecting me when someone else was. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Being a parent is not an easy task, and because it's not payed with anything tangible, its value can and does go unnoticed too often and way more than it should. To spend time with a child, watch them grow, put effort in everything that you do with them, and do it all with love, is beyond me. Like I said in a previous post, I'd be bringing cocktails to the park to help me get through the day, so any parent who doesn't do that wins in my books. Obviously I'm kidding, because it takes a few more requirements, other than not being alcoholic, to be a good parent. Point is that parenting is hard.

Actually one of my best friends and I were talking about how we both feel sympathetic to mothers who go crazy and kill their children. The truth is, I can totally understand how that can happen. It's awful, yes, but still understandable to me. When parents, and usually mothers because they are the ones that take care of children the majority of the time, are not supported enough, or don't feel like what they're doing is valued, well that would make anyone go crazy because it's actually such hard work.

Parents need a network of social support. We have this idea that parents have to do it all on their own, but historically the idea of family has never been two people raising children on their own and completely isolated. That's insane! Historically, family, friends, and communities have always created a social system where raising children is done by many adults who support them and support each other. Sure, it was for survival purposes, but the question I always ask when thinking of families is: Are we really surviving on our own now? People are social beings and they need each other for everything, so why not also raising children, which is the hardest job a person will ever have?

It is for this reason that I respect my mom today. We had many people who loved us and kept us afloat, no doubt. But also for the majority of my years growing up, it was just my mom and I. It was a difficult time and one that I've mostly blocked out. So thank you mom, for not going crazy enough to kill me. Thank you for hanging in there.


Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Crows Caw

The crows warn me
Of what's to come
Trees covering the sky
Hovering over my
Head and I
Can't shake off
The feeling of
Breathless breaths
Countless deaths
Of dreams it seems
I walk this path
Of leaves
The moonlight
Sneaking through
The cracks of branches
Showing the darkness
To me, with patches
Of light
I might
Have a chance 
I think to myself, but then
The crows tell me so
And I know 
That I walk blindly
But light of the moon 
Will guide me
Hitting my face
So gently
On this path 
Of my future and past
Made from dried out leaves
And long lost dreams
I proceed
Leaves crunching
Beneath my feet
The crows caw 
Their notes, raw
And so I face my own defeat

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Men Versus Women: Are they really that different?

I've always been aware of the way media portrays men and women and, most of the time, it adheres to conventional views of the way either should act. There is humor to be found in the way they are pitted against each other, and I've also noticed that many comedians get most of their laughs by highlighting "what men do" versus "what women do". It's evident that according to television shows, commercials, and especially nonsensical magazines that women are whiny, nagging, crazy, emotional bitches beings who continuously need to be educated on "How To Please Your Man", whereas men are emotionally unaware, sexually motivated, "never right, even though they're right" people who have to deal with women, and neither seem to understand each other because they are just oh so different. Wow. Where do I even begin to dissect this distorted view?

Are you shitting me with this?
First of all, looking at men and women in this way troubles me because I feel like it's an unfair depiction of both. It's amazing that, still to this day, so many people hold essentialist views about gender, meaning that they believe women and men are biologically built to act differently towards sex, relationships, and conflict, when that is so far from the truth. I can't blame people though, because before I read a few articles and educated myself on the matter, I had similar opinions and I was content to believe that differences could not always be controlled, nor could they change because that was the way we were biologically programmed. Little did I know that the very idea of gender itself has continuously been changing and that it is viewed differently in various cultures. I might discuss this in more detail in another blog, but for the sake of keeping each blog short, I will keep the focus of this one on the fact that, actually, no one has found any proof to suggest that men and women are all that different (with a few and very minor exceptions in their anatomies and level of hormones.) This means that being a woman or a man will not determine your personality or the choices that you make, so much that the idea of what it means to be a woman or a man might. That's an important distinction to make because it suggests that change is quite possible. However equally, it also suggest that change is difficult because ideas can be very powerful, due to the depth in which they are embedded into a society's belief system.

But I say it's time to switch it up already; it's time to shake the pot. The time has come to open our minds up about the, too often, rigid views we have about gender roles and expectations. Yes, it is possible for a man to be sensitive, not always sexually driven, and just as "complicated" and moody as a woman. Similarly, a woman can be quite logical, easy going, and at times, more concerned about her own sexual gratification than learning "10 Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with [her]" (can I get an amen?!! No not a man...urg never mind) The point is that people are a lot more fluid than most categories allow, especially in terms of gender and sexual orientation. Imagine the freedom people would feel if such categories were not simplified and then forced upon people to fit into them. Perhaps people could then let the fluid nature of their identities flow without anxiety and fear that they would be jeopardizing their positions within the society, and within their own personal lives. I say it's time to let ourselves (and others) flow.

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Road Will Be Mine

For those of you who like poetry, here is another:

Sitting in the passenger's seat
Waiting for something to happen
When I realize that I'm holding the wheel
But I can't move because I'm strapped in
The feeling of panic sets in
The car moves faster and I can't control it
I want to stop but I'm trapped in
With my hands numb I can't hold it
I realize that this is the moment
Either give in or give it all up
“But I'm not ready yet” I told it
“So you must tell the panic to stop”
Stop! I take control because I know
How this will eventually end
Be it smooth, rocky, fast or slow
The road will be mine to bend
Its bumps, mine to mend
Its wisdom, my friend
The road will be mine in the end

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Doubt, just F-off!

Unfortunately the article I was working on for the kid's magazine got rejected or "pulled" to put it more politely. There's nothing like being rejected politely. There's a proverb in Farsi that's along the lines of "cut their heads off with cotton", which essentially means to stab someone ten times, for example, but to do it while you're laughing and massaging them so that they don't feel it. Wait, I'm sure that job already exists and they call themselves acupuncturists. No offence to acupuncturists, I'm sure you're lovely people...who cut people's heads off with cotton ...bastards. Okay okay, back to being rejected: I don't want to be dramatic about the whole thing because I know that these things happen. Sometimes it's not what they're looking for or the final edit doesn't happen in time to be published.

It's still very disappointing in that moment, but it's important to keep the same pace and just continue on. I've come to realize that I give up too fast. I've been spending my life waiting for the answers to jump out at me, but I haven't made much effort finding them, and I know that because I haven't been rejected enough. You know you're doing the best you can when you have a few doors closed on you. I've been so afraid of being told that I'm not good enough, that I've never really put myself out there to be in a vulnerable position. What kind of a life is that? Too mellow for my liking. Too safe.

There's another issue: reality checks. How often do we really go looking for them? I know I don't, but I also know that sometimes it's necessary. It's good to have someone tell you that you didn't do it right. It's even good to have someone tell you that you absolutely suck because it'll get you thinking. Either you get to a point where you honestly confess that maybe what you thought you wanted wasn't really what you wanted, or you say "fuck you" to the doubt that you have, and find a way to make it work. I haven't decided where I stand with that fork in the road yet. Still in the middle, as I always am with everything, and still waiting to take my next step.

I realize there is no fork in the road, but it's a road and it kind of works with my metaphor so cut me some slack.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

I Coulda Been Somebody

A few months ago I was thinking about how we only celebrate the big successes we have in our lives, but to me, the true success is the will to do the daily tasks that get us to where we want to go. Every time we get up in the morning, the effort that goes into getting prepared for the day, thinking about what food and where we'll eat, these aren't always so easy to do and the fact that we have the will to achieve these small tasks day in and day out in order to ensure a healthy life, or life at all for that matter, should be something that we can be proud of. Maybe I just think like that because I'm trying to console myself for not having achieved much in my twenty-four years of life, so I'm simply proud of the fact that I'm still around. Sue me.

Joking aside, sometimes I really think I know how I define success. It seems simple and so easy to attain. It's about finding peace within myself, regardless of my situation or the obstacles I face. It's the ability to genuinely smile during a day when nothing has gone right, and I've had phases when that's happened so I know that that's possible. But at times I tend to get confused because expectations get in the way, and that can include my own dreams and aspirations. To quote Terry Malloy from the film On the Waterfront (1954), ever since I was a kid I always had this feeling that "I coulda been somebody instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it." That's exactly how I feel and I'm sure many people will understand because, at the end of the day, everyone wants to be "somebody"; they want to leave some kind of footprint behind. It makes you wonder why that is so important? I tend to think that perhaps we're all playing a big joke on ourselves and it isn't meant to be so complicated. Maybe it's not important to be "somebody" as it is to simply "be."

Convenient that my initials are B.E. Perhaps that's my legacy: Banafshe Eshragi, the girl who learned how to be.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Bells Hit the Ground

Because a little poetry never hurt anyone, here is something I wrote a while ago.

Gentle rain
The pores
It pours
It goes
Of drops 
With the ground
They sound
Like bells
Or like a
Piano sounds
The skin
By Fog 
I long
For it 
To touch me
The trees
No path 
In front
No path 
But the rain
Will guide
When the fog
In my breath
I trust
I must 
Keep going
I am alone
But I long
To be
The whisper
Of a tree
The music 
Of rain
The smell 
Of grass
I long 
To be
One with the living
One with the dead
I know 
I must
Trust in my breath 

Thoughts on Parenting: Easy to Judge When You Don't Have Children

I've always found it quite strange that people view parenthood as a natural progression into maturity, but fail to recognize the amount of time and effort that goes into raising a child. Yesterday as I was going for my walk, I decided to sit at the park for a bit before heading back home. I was watching children with their parents and thinking about how it will soon be my generation and their children that inhabit the park. Strange. As I watched the parents, the image of a father in his late twenties to early thirties, pushing his five year old daughter on the swing with one hand, while talking into his cellphone with the other caught my eye. I remembered that I had seen him an hour ago in the beginning of my walk, again talking on his cellphone. It dawned on me that he didn't want to be there at all, and mentally he wasn't there. His restless daughter kept trying to get his attention and got nothing. I couldn't understand why a person like that would choose to have a kid.

Then I remembered a stand-up skit by Louis CK where he speaks about his children and how annoying they can be, and it made me laugh and a bit more sympathetic (although not much because I just can't wrap my head around a father who's on the phone the whole time he's with his kid at the park.) One of the biggest reasons that people choose to have children is that people think it will give them a sense of self fulfillment; it will complete them. Is it just me or is that a really bad reason? Having children is hard, and I don't think the issue is about them "completing" you, whatever that means, but about trying to not let them tear you to shreds. I just mean that it takes a lot out of you, physically and emotionally.

Also, parents are never given the right to complain about how annoying their children can be or how much they don't feel like dealing with them, and god forbid if they display these feelings publicly. I even had a look of pure disgust on my face when I was observing this careless father, but then I thought about myself and that if I had a child I'd probably bring vodka? tequila? spiked punch and Advil with me to the park everyday (for myself, not the child..what kind of a parent do you think I am?!) I was so entranced by this family that I forgot that I was completely staring and I think the father thought I was interested in him because he kept looking at me. Either that or he was scared for the safety of his daughter at the possibility that I could be a total creep. It was then that I thought it best to leave and head back, so I smiled at my own awkwardness and I left.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Better to do Something than Nothing

I have recently finished my undergrad program, and I've heard from many people that it's common to feel the "graduation blues" afterwards because that's when real life begins. So many people ask me tell me that I should be excited now that I have accomplished finishing school, but to be honest I really don't feel anything at all except anxiety for what will come next and how I'm suppose to "make my mark" in this world. Yes, I know it's completely dramatic, but that is one of the symptoms of feeling blue. Needless to say, I have definitely been getting a good dose of "graduation blues."

But today I changed my routine (or lack there of) and went for a walk by myself. I haven't done that in a while and I forgot how much clearer a walk would always make me feel afterwards. As I walked through the park in my neighbourhood, I realized that even this little thing I was doing, which was really nothing at all, made such a difference in my day. The eye contact I would sometimes make with strangers that was usually followed by a smile, or the energy of my legs picking up pace, my breath deepening, it was all so important in making me realize that there's a whole world out there outside of my (sometimes tortured and usually twisted) mind, and that there is no reason to be anxious. All I need to do is step out and things will happen.

I read an interesting article about self esteem yesterday. I've been working on an article about confidence for a kid's magazine the past few weeks, and so I was trying to do a bit of research when I came across this line: "...people with confidence focus on growth and improving, while people with low confidence worry about making mistakes." I'm not positive which research this came from, but I do remember reading something similar in a psychology course that I took last year. The fear of making a mistake can consume me, and I know that I'm not alone in this because many people around my age seem to make decisions based on the assumption that they will have to live with that choice for the rest of their lives, which is not true, but apparently the way most people in their twenties tend to think. So I suppose it's important to remember that sometimes, and especially when I'm feeling down, it's good to do something than nothing at all. Even something as simple as going for a walk and taking in a deep breath of fresh air can make you realize how exciting taking risks and making mistakes can be.